Colombia supports the lawsuit filed by South Africa against Israel before the International Court of Justice, for allegedly committing “genocide” in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli bombs have already killed more than 23,300 Palestinians in three months. The Colombian government expressed in a communiqué that it “welcomes the lawsuit filed by South Africa against Israel (…) for violation of provisions of the 1948 Convention against genocide”. In this way, the Colombian president joins the position of other countries such as Brazil, Bolivia, Malaysia or Turkey.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s support for the lawsuit was made official after a meeting with the Palestinian ambassador, Ibrahim Alzeben, in Brasilia. “In light of the flagrant violations of international humanitarian law, the president expressed his support for South Africa’s initiative to bring an action before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to determine that Israel immediately cease all acts or measures that may constitute genocide or related crimes,” the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said in a note.
Israel before international justice
Proceedings before the ICJ for the lawsuit filed by South Africa against Israel for “genocide” in the Gaza Strip began Thursday at the Peace Palace in the Dutch city of The Hague. The president of the body, Joan Donoghue, introduced the lawyers representing South Africa and Israel, Dikgang Ernest Moseneke and Aharon Barak, respectively, at the beginning of the hearings, who were sworn in before the tribunal. South Africa is scheduled to speak today from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and Israel will do the same on Friday.
During today’s hearing, South African counsel Adila Hassim accused Israel of maintaining a “pattern of genocidal conduct” in the Gaza Strip with “mass killings”, “forced displacement” and “serious physical or mental harm” to Palestinian civilians. These hearings will not yet go into the merits of the case, and will only focus on the necessity of the precautionary measures to “protect the rights of the Palestinian people from further, serious and irreparable harm” during the Gaza offensive.
“Israel’s acts and omissions are genocidal in character because they are aimed at bringing about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group: that part of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip,” South Africa charged when it initiated these proceedings against Israel last Dec. 29. The case centers on the violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted in 1948 and in force in 152 countries.
Since the Hamas attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, the Israeli army has been carrying out a heavy offensive on Gaza that has left the enclave devastated, with more than 23,300 Palestinians dead, more than 60,000 wounded, and 1.9 million displaced in a territory inhabited by 2.3 million people.
Colombia, the first voices critical of Israel
The president of Colombia was among the first voices to publicly criticize the Israeli military response to the attack by the armed group Hamas perpetrated on October 7. The clashes between President Gustavo Petro and the Israeli authorities have been a constant during these three months of crisis. This is why it is not surprising that Colombia is one of the countries that has unreservedly supported the South African lawsuit against the Hebrew country and its military actions in Gaza.
“As President of the Republic Gustavo Petro has maintained since the very beginning of this bloody phase of the conflict in Palestine, it is very clear that the actions and measures adopted by the government of Israel constitute acts of genocide”, says the press release issued by the Colombian Foreign Ministry.
In the same text, the Foreign Ministry has described South Africa’s lawsuit as “a courageous step in the right direction”, highlighting Colombia’s intention to “accompany and support this legal action by means of resources and procedural tools provided by the ICJ Statute and practice”.
With these actions, both the plaintiff country and its supporters hope that Israel will be forced to stop military actions on civilians in Gaza. “The Republic of Colombia hopes that, following the hearings convened, the Court will decide without delay on the request for urgent interim measures requested by South Africa and adopt decisions that will allow the bloodbath in Gaza and the occupied territories to cease,” the note concludes.